Sunday, August 2, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"11001001"

“11001001” is one of the few highlights of the first season. It marks the unfortunately only appearance of the Bynars, an inspired creation. The Bynars have their frontal lobes removed when they are born and replaced with a computer processor. Their entire race is connected in a similar, but less sinister, manner to the Borg. The Bynars stick out in my mind, not only because of they were made to be elaborately alien in both appearanve and language, since they speak in a sped up code. Too often from here on out, a nose ridge or different colored skin will be the only true alien element of most species to appear. Missed opportunities, methinks.

The Bynars are supposed to upgrade the Enterprise computers while it is docked at a starbase. They have a secret plan instead to hijack the ship and use its computer to store their planet’s network before a supernova wipes it out in what would be genocide for them.

The plot brings up the only real flaw in the episode. The Bynars never just asked for help. Their explanation is a fear the federation might refuse. I do not buy it. I cannot imagine the Federation would ever allow genocide to occur, especially when all it had to do was provide temporary storage for data. Think about the Bynars plan. They were going to distract Riker on the holodeck with a hot woman in a re dress while they took the ship to Bynar. Riker was supposed to go along as a failsafe to reboot their network in case they passed out.

Look how much risk they were taking. Riker might not have been distracted. Riker might have been too distracted with the woman to aid the Bynars in time. It is Riker, after all. Starfleet might have rescued the ship before it reached Bynar. The self-destruct sequence might have actually gone all the way even if the ship was not rescued. Riker might not have known what to do even if their plan had worked up until that point. As it was, the supernova occurred sooner than expected, so Riker could not have fixed thins himself anyway.

It would have been much more reasonable to just ask. Or,better yet, a planet so dependent on a vital network ought to have had a plan in place for such an event in the first place. They should avoid Microsoft, too. I would hate to think the Blue screen of Death might actually wipe out a civilization. The fact they feared the federation might say no hinges on their alien understanding of other cutures. It is a flimsy excuse, but it gets the plot going.

That is the big problem with TNG. It is always plot over characterization. When the plot is inspired, it works, but only for so long. TheBynars were interesting characters, but they were not acting rationally. They were too underdeveloped. The regular cast did not fare much better. Worf and Tasha Yar are off to play sports. Data is learning to paint. Crusher is on her way to meet a cybernetics expert. Riker heads to the holodeck to play some jazz. This is what qualifies as character development. It is like saying the knowledge Sherlock Holmes wore a hat and smoked a pipe gives you some great insight into who he is. It does not. Unfortunately, it is going to be a while longer the situation improves much.

I still like the episode. The plot works here in spite of the implausibly risky Bynar plan. In a nice touch of continuity, the woman in red will return as Riker’s fantasy wife in the fourth season’s “Future Imperfect.” She left an impact on him, no? it is bittersweet how a short encounter can stick with you a long time.

Rating; **** (out f 5)

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